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Dear Professional,

I would like to know the disadvantages, if we follow colour code system for all Main Classes in DDC subjects.

If each main class have a unique colour code then the subject will easily identified and located by users. For Example: users' cannot remember the numbers but colours will be easy for them.

Traditional call number labels with colour code, that makes it easier for user to locate subject area and easier for staff to notice misplaced items. 

Would like to know disadvantages Please....


Knowledge Classification and Colour Code System


The central purpose of libraries is to provide a service: Access to information, physical access to a potentially informative document depends on identifying and locating it.


Libraries exist for the benefit of the mind, but they have serious practical problems coping with the acquisition, storage, and handling of the documents and records with which they deal.



The main aim of the bibliographic access includes three central concerns:


a)     Identifying documents

b)    Locating documents

c)     Physical access to materials


Let us see the objectives and find which area users feel it difficult, to access the materials from the below questions.



To help users to find a book of which either (Identifying objective)

  • the author
  • the title
  • the subject
  • the call number

So with the help of catalog users are able to identify the document searching by author, title, and subject etc, can also check the status too of a particular document.



In 1873 Mr. Melvil Dewey devised a system of classifying books. He chose certain main subject and numbers, so that all nonfiction books on the same subject would be together on the shelf.   


Dewey Decimal System is a tool used to sort books into groups or categories. We all know the system that groups books by topic, by dividing them in to 10 basic categories, and each of those categories is further split in to 10 categories and so on, and it is the most widely used library organization system in the world.


So classification helps user to identify the subject and to locate the subject easily on the shelves.



Call number help user to identify a specific copy of a work. A set of letters, numerals or other symbols (in combination or alone) it may also contain other data such as date, volume number, and copy number, used by a library to identify a specific copy of a work.


Each book in a library has a unique call number. A call number is like an address it tells us where an item is located in the library.


Understanding call numbers


It is difficult for users to understand because, every time it is the spine that one generally looks for and more specifically, its call number label, with so much pressure on the call number.       


To access the document physically user has to browse the shelves until one narrow it down to the call number. Imagine when a document is misplaced from its original place on the shelves, that time it is difficult for both user and staff to find the misplaced copy.


So with the help of call number users may identify and locate the document, now we are able to identify the area and difficulties involved in finding the document.



A unique colour for main subjects will always help the main subject of books together on the shelf.

Traditional call number labels with colour code, that makes it easier for user to locate subject area and easier for staff to notice misplaced items.


Advantages of colour code system:

  • Save the time of the user.
  • Always help staff to keep the subject books together.
  • Colour code makes it easier for user to locate subject areas and for staff to notice misplaced copy by visually identifying the subject colours.
  • Easy to sort the main subject books as and when returned, also staff may not find it difficult to reshelf the books.
  • The most important advantage is solution for misplaced books on shelf, as it is easy to find without using any technology.


Let us see below how the system works.


Colour Code System an Overview

Main Subjects

Colour     &          Call No.


Philosophy    &   Psychology








Social Science








Natural Science








Fine Art      & Recreation








Geography  History     Biography




General Works












Some of the colour given above also matches the subject:


Why yellow for 100’s (Philosophy and Psychology)


The colour yellow symbolizes Wisdom, Joy, Happiness, Emotions and better feel etc. like the subject deals with.


Why green for 500’s (Natural Science)


As the color green symbolizes nature, life, and powerful symbol in the eco-friendly movement.


Why orange for 700’s (Arts)


As orange the colour of creativity and also “get it done attitude” and the colour also symbolizes playfulness like the subject deals with


Why gold for 800’s (literature)


Literature has its own value like gold.

Why brown for 900’s (Geography, History and Biography)

Brown is the colour of soil, giving it an earthy.


Conclusion:  Save the time of the user. Avoid the wastage of users’ time involved in search for a particular book by creating effective call number labels with colour code for main subjects. So that user gets access to the best source.

Hope nothing in this system that would negatively impact library classification.

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                  I think if we follow this color coding system there is no problem at all it's very useful for Library staff as well as users they can find easily.

Thanks Manjunatha...

Great idea!I think colour code system ,if followed, would be a unique and exceptionally better method of identifying documents especially the misplaced ones. Sir, u've explained it so precisely and systematically. My suggestion is to use coloured spine labels as subject codes.

Thanks for your suggestion Madam...

In my point of view color code system is blind classification system because it is un scientific and non professional work.

My suggestion is for easy to identifying or misplace book you may be used all Main Classes in DDC subjects can be color label in each main class give to one color label and written call no. as well as use bay guide color is main class no.color


Thanks for your reply

My point is traditional call number labels with colour code

Call nos provided with colour code,the white area for the call no and on the top with colour code.

Sir, how can it be blind classification when we are using DDC or UDC class nos. for classifying documents. The suggestion was to put coloured spine labels or as Abilash Sir pointed out that colour codes be used for different subjects at the top of the spine label.  In our library we are using subject codes from Colon Classification Scheme such as B-for Mathematics, C-for Physics. If these codes are used these codes can also be written in colour. This system is just like adding spice to classification making the documents easily detectable for both users and staff. Of course uniformity should be maintained. It is just a suggestion which we professionals may consider.

Thanks Madam, Yes its adding spice to the call no labels.

Also in OPAC we can include the same code for call no background.

So that user may easily identify the colour code.

Sir, this concept is good. It can be useful for multisubjects' libraries. But what about a single subject library ? If I have a collection of a subject (e.g.architecture, management, Ayurvedic, etc.)that one, I can't use a colour code for a Main class. If I used orange for Fine arts, it will be Ok. But for an Fine Arts institutional library cannot use a single colour for all fine Arts. That time I have to follow a different colour code system for the Divisions / Sections in the DDC or the facets in the colon classification. This type of working cannot be universally acceptable. Secondly, If my institute starts a new program, I have to use different colour for new program books. How can be possible to use a pre-used colour for new subject ? We know the 10-12 main colours. But different shades of a same colour cannot be useful for the work. If a book useful for more than one Subject, that time problem will be of preference. Which colour and subjectcan be defined for multisubjects'books? Colour and its relation with the values or emotions e.g. white=peace or progress) is just an imagination. It can be have more alternatives. White colour is used for showing peace and also for sadness. So this relationship cannot be scientific.

So your concept is good, but in practice, it can be impractical.

Example of colour code system being used in the UK

The Classification Schedules list in classified order (including colour) the main subject areas.

Alphabetical list of subjects with related colour code and Dewey Decimal classification number.

Any Library Using this Classification System?


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